OAKDALE -- It's said only a tsunami would cancel a rodeo. Well, something close to a tsunami drenched the 59th Oakdale Saddle Club Rodeo late Sunday afternoon.
Small rivers washed through the arena floor by the time the bulls turfed their last cowboy. From about 1,000 who braved the bracing south wind and cold for the grand entry, about 50 fans were left in the bleachers at day's end.
"I'm a 22-year member of the saddle club. I've lived in Oakdale for 40 years. I've seen rain, but I've never seen the wind blow like this," saddle club president Ed Viohl said.
Yes, it was a choose-your-weather day -- wind that forced booth vendors to grab their awnings lest they were blown like tumbleweed toward Farmington, followed later by sideways rain. Saturday's crowd topped 5,000, but you could have squeezed Sunday's hardcore rodeo fans into the beer garden.
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Which, by the way, proved to be a handy shelter.
"We still had a wonderful turnout Saturday," Viohl said. "It will pay the bills."
Cloudburst notwithstanding, the flags were unfurled and the show went on. In fact, two cowboys -- bull rider Jacob Tyner and saddle bronc specialist Jake Costello -- drove overnight to Oakdale to win their respective events.
Costello, 34, won the aggregate and pocketed more than $11,100 Saturday night at the Dodge National Circuit Finals in Pocatello, Idaho. Two things motivated both him and his travel mate/brother-in-law Jake Hayworth for the 11-hour trip -- more money to be won and good bronc draws in Oakdale.
"Going over Donner Pass was real foggy but the roads weren't slick," Costello said. "Pocatello is about halfway to Oakdale from my home (in Newell, S.D.), so I figured I was already half-way here."
Costello, a circuit cowboy these days after narrowly missing a trip to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in 2005, turned the extra mileage in his favor with a score of 83 aboard Wind Chimes. Hayworth checked in with second-place money, thanks to an 81 on H-B.
Tyner, 28, pulled the same double duty after he cashed more than $5,100 at Pocatello. He even snuck in a few hours sleep at his Sacramento home before he completed the journey.
Then, on the first ride of the rodeo-closing final second section of bull rides, he negotiated Sunset Shadow, while the rain poured the hardest, in 85 points to tie for first place with Casey Decker.
"If you let it (the rain) get in your head, you'll make it harder. Riding bulls is still the same basic stuff," Tyner said. "I was glad I was the first one out. I didn't have to stand around and get too wet."
Brazile wins all-around
Before the weather fell apart the final day, the rodeo was dominated by seven-time reigning all-around world champion Trevor Brazile of Decatur, Texas. He seized all-around cowboy honors in Oakdale in one of the best roping performances the rodeo has seen in years. The superstar won the aggregate in both tie-down roping and team roping, the latter with partner Patrick Smith, plus go-rounds in both events.
Brazile totaled $7,144, all earned during the relative quiet of slack time Friday and Saturday mornings. His name now joins the other rodeo icons on the John Bowman Trophy, which recognizes Oakdale's top all-around hand.
Meanwhile, saddle club officials plan for next year's 60th-anniversary rodeo while counting their blessings.
Because no one drowned.
Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2302.